June 29, 2020

The 5 Keys to Customer Retention in 2020

Belynda Cianci
Belynda Cianci

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As part of our Show Must Go On virtual event, we sat down with Terminus VP of Brand Marketing, Justin Keller. Terminus is a best-in-class ABM platform and community that empowers B2B marketers to be heroes in their organizations.

In the age of COVID-19, the old adage about a bird in the hand being worth two in a bush is truer than ever. As budgets shrink and decision-makers become more cautious, maximizing the revenue from your current customer base takes the driver’s seat over acquiring new customers.

Justin Keller has been championing this ABM approach to funnel-building for over 15 years. With his extensive background in B2B marketing, he’s more confident than ever that, in the era of COVID-19, keeping customers happy and expanding their use of your product or service can make all the difference in your revenue.

So, how do you ensure you’re delighting your current customer base and giving them the content and attention they deserve? Let’s look at some statistics, secrets, and plays that will ensure you continue to grow, regardless of the economic forecast.

The Case for Customer Retention

The impact of retention over acquisition is enormous. In the wake of COVID-19, net ARR becomes much more important than new ARR in terms of growth.

The reason is simple: If you’re losing customers, it can’t necessarily be offset by acquisition. What’s more, your customers weren’t free to acquire. It is 5x more expensive to acquire a new customer vs. retaining a new one, so in addition to the loss of recurring revenue, you’re also taking a hit on CPA. Therefore, focusing on the bottom of the funnel is the most important strategy you can implement going forward.

Why? As Justin puts it, “The more customers you preserve, the more at-bats you will have for expansion.” Even more importantly, today’s happy customer is tomorrow’s champion— an essential ingredient of your marketing strategy when you return your focus to the top of the funnel in the future.

The 5 Keys to Customer Retention

A few central principles will effectively guide your retention marketing strategies, allowing you to create stronger ties with your current customers, and open the door to expansion possibilities.

  1. Target the right customer, based on good data. Review your segmentation by industry, CLV, NPS score, relationship strength, and renewal date, targeting those in the best position to respond to (and benefit from) your outreach.
  2. Keep them engaged across every channel. “Your newsletter is not going to cut it anymore,” Justin explains. “You need to make sure you’re talking loudly across every channel to make sure your message is heard.”
  3. Understand your customer behavior. Knowing when to reach out, and what to reach out with, will create a much better experience for your customer.
  4. Measure your success and prove that what you’re doing works. Having the data to understand how your customers are engaging with your efforts is key to retention marketing success.
  5. Don’t forget the secret ingredient: your CS team! Make sure you’re taking advantage of their knowledge through standing weekly meetings with CS. Doing so can improve retention by almost 40%.

If the above sounds a lot like Account-based Marketing (ABM), Justin assures us it should! “In reality, customer marketing is the purest and simplest form of ABM.

Why Does ABM Increase Retention?

  • The effectiveness of AMB for customer retention and expansion marketing boils down to a few important factors:
  • Your customer is already your ICP
  • The account is already mapped – you know who the stakeholders and decision-makers are.
  • You have clearly established business outcomes that you’re are trying to help them achieve.

Running Your Retention and Expansion Program

Understanding the stakes and the potential for retention, you can get the most out of your customer retention and expansion campaigns. A strategic approach can help you laser-target those customers most receptive to your efforts.

Analyze Your Customers

  • Your best customers: “Pull out all the stops for these high-value accounts to keep them happy and successful,” Justin says of this important segment. “Happy customers are happy to chat about adding more into their business and expanding their business lines.”
  • Mid- to High-LTV customers: Customers potentially showing intent for a competitor or low usage. Examine the areas in which you can create a stronger relationship with this segment.
  • Low-usage or low satisfaction: Identify the issues and increase their usage and happiness.

Make the Right Moves

Taking an analytical approach with your campaigns can yield even bigger returns when conducting retention-based marketing strategies. A few tips for doing it right:

  • Spend Wisely: Invest in ads, with an emphasis on customer marketing over acquisition.
  • Segment Well: Extend the value of the content you’re creating by tightening your customer segments use case, challenge, and industry.
  • Monitor Intent: Look for churn signals such as a drop in app usage. Understand the reasons and solutions. Educate your customers effectively by using 1-to-1 data provided by CS, relationship data, etc.
  • Assess Resiliency: Identify the industries doing well during COVID-19, and tailor content to those searching with intent. Focus on those customers doing really well (or really poorly) will give you an edge in retention.
  • Boost Brand: Those brands that boost branding and ad spend during downturns realize up to 275% growth once recessions end.

Focus on the Long Game

The strategies discussed above can yield immediate results, but create long-term wins as well. “Focus on delighting your customers right now is the most important thing you can do. Move activities from the top of the funnel bottom. Create great, engaging campaigns that delight your customers that educate and help your brand flourish and do better in the long run,” says Justin.

Programs to Run Now

Having effective plays in your marketing playbook can make all the difference in the post-COVID-19 marketing landscape. To keep your recurring revenue high, and increase the power available within your current customer base, focus on:


Create opportunities for your customer to increase their use of your product or service through bespoke advertising and personal outreach.

Churn Prevention

Keep on top of your renewal schedule, creating automation rules and personalized content, outreach, and ads that outline the value, features, and improvements in your offering.

Register below to watch the full on-demand session with Justin, including his in-depth program planning flowcharts for your upcoming expansion and retention campaigns available through our The Show Must Go On virtual event.

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